With sport on indefinite hiatus, we’re having to get by on words rather than actions.
And since that’s the case, it’s a great time to have a look at the way both the players and fans talk about rugby league.
While we have a bunch of established clichés that we deride players for using – “full credit to the boys”, “game of two halves”, “I swear officer, I thought the car was a urinal” – there are some newer lines that have crept into the lingo.
And they suck.
Let’s have a look at some of the phrases that are ruining the way we talk about footy.
While rugby league is all about go-forward, “moving forward” is redundant.
This insidious phrase has crept into every walk of life, but I can’t remember the last time an NRL administrator or coach held a press conference without using it.
Take this comment from ARLC chair Peter V’landys last month (who knows what he was talking about, could have been anything really): “It could have catastrophic effects on us moving forward.”
Or RLPA CEO Clint Newton: “This type of discussion is something that the game has now committed to do more regularly moving forward… Clubs also need to be a part of that moving forward, which we welcome.”
Even the new guy got in on the act, Justin Holbrook saying as he announced he was headed to the Gold Coast: “I know the club is in a great position moving forward.”
Reread those quotes and remove the words “moving forward”. They all still make sense.
So what contingency are we acting against here? Just in case we somehow move backwards?
Let’s assume that we will continue to move forward, as that’s how time has worked for the entirety of human existence.
Moving forward, let’s cut this unnecessary phrase out – or we should really embrace covering off possibilities:
“Moving forward, breathing air, eating meals, drinking water, sleeping at night, our hair and fingernails slowly growing…”
“… and my family”
I wonder who the first player was to utter these words.
You can imagine the scene. The hometown hero has decided to sign a fat contract with a rival club and fronts the media.
“I needed to do the right thing for me,” he says.
Crickets. You can actually feel the fans’ love for the local legend turning to blind hatred.
He’s leaving our great club for money? What a selfish, inconsiderate, ungrateful…
“… Uh – and my family,” he hastily adds.
“I needed to do the right thing for me and my family.”
Oh, well that’s different. He’s got a family. Mouths to feed, school fees to pay, a mortgage to maintain.
It was a piece of spin for the ages – and so it has proven, with players reciting the mantra any time they move on up to a club offering a larger paycheque.
They’re not doing it for themselves, it’s for their family. But here’s the thing: I don’t care how players spend money.
Making sure your kids get a great education? Lovely.
Buying your single mum a house? Wonderful.
Pissing it up against a wall? Sounds like fun.
The players are people I have nothing to do with, so why do I care about how they spend their money any more than I care how a total stranger blows cash?
As long as they’re performing on the field, it’s all the same to me.
So don’t go using your ‘family’ – and that doesn’t even mean ‘partner and kids’ anymore, young, free, single dudes wheel this line out – as a shield for your financial decisions.
You’re the one getting paid. Own it.
“One day the real story will be told”
This is a saying you’ll hear a disgruntled player utter after he’s been released – one that I tend to recall every player who left the Bulldogs in the mid-noughties reciting.
They would sign a massive deal with another club – let’s be honest, they’d be heading to the Roosters – then would make the argument that they weren’t leaving for financial reasons, but because there had been machinations that the public weren’t privy to.
Of course, one day we’d hear the full story. Except we never do.
And in most cases, I suspect it’s because a player who leaves a club in a huff tends to settle down and remember the good times after a number of years.
Think Willie Mason, who walked out on the Dogs in less-than-amicable circumstances, but now dons the blue and white for the annual Legends of League tournament.
So what was the “real story” when he left Canterbury for the Eastern Suburbs in late 2007? Looks like we’ll never know.
Probably because it was never as juicy or salacious as intimated. He disagreed with the top brass and both sides decided it was best to move on.
But speaking of Easts, let’s close out our list of rugby league clichés with the most tired way of referring to the Roosters.
I’ve penned a few pieces in defence of the Sydney Roosters because the two-time reigning champs are the competition’s absolute benchmark, both on and off the field.
What’s more, I continue to reject the notion they simply buy premierships – they recruit talented players and Trent Robinson’s systems turn them into the elite.
Don’t, however, confuse my admiration for adoration. I hate the Chooks.
But while I’ll sling any number of insults their way (from the safety of my keyboard of course), the one I refuse to buy into is “latte sippers”.
The club is based in Australia’s wealthiest suburbs, so I get that in the nation where tall-poppy syndrome was invented, we’d go after them for being rich.
But somehow we’ve decided a caffeinated beverage is an indicator of their obscene financial status?
You know where you can get a latte? Everywhere – because they’re delicious! In fact, the best lattes I’ve had were to be found in such coffee hubs as Sydney’s inner west, Melbourne and Newcastle (Bondi lattes are pretty average to be honest).
What’s more, it’s a hot drink – you sip it by necessity.
So we insult the Roosters by saying “You enjoy drinking that tasty, silky-smooth, caffeinated beverage that can be found at any café in the country – and you drink it in the same fashion as the rest of us.”
Uh… take that?
It’s a Moe Szyslak burn:
“Latte? Hey, fellas, ‘latte’. Well ooh la-di-da Mr Frenchman.”
“What do you call it?”
“A milk coffee.”